By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE Amateur Boxing Federation of the Bahamas will host its first Wellington 'Sonny Boy' Rahming Memorial Boxing Championships this weekend.
The event, featuring teams from the Cayman Islands, Haiti and the United States against the Bahamas, will get started 7pm tonight at the Anatol Rodgers Gymnasium and wrap up on Saturday night at the same time.
"We are excited about this," said federation president Vincent Strachan. "The Cayman Islands are our close friends. They came here to help us build this tournament. "This is going to be an annual event and hopefully once we can get the funding that we need, we can make this one of the biggest tournaments in the region."
Already in town is a five-member team from the Cayman Islands, featuring three female competitors.
This is the first time that the boxers from the Cayman Islands will be competing in the Bahamas, but head coach Floyd Trumpet said they came here to put on a good show.
"As any coach will tell who brings boxers to compete, they want to win," he said. "So we're looking forward to the victory."
Formerly a coach for Trinidad & Tobago, Trump only took over the Cayman Islands' programme in January and he's been impressed with what he has seen from the competitors.
"It's a new programme that I started from scratch, so we have some new boxers," said Trumpet, who is being assisted by Rogerio Pitta.
"We are trying to build a team to get boxers ready for the Olympic Games in 2024 and beyond."
Trumpet said the Caribbean needs more competitions like this. That's one of the reasons why they accepted the invitation from Strachan to bring the team here to compete. "I know Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana have a competition between themselves and you can see their boxers are ready for a certain level of competition," he said.
"I just think that the Western Caribbean needs to have more tournaments like these so that we can get our boxers up to par with the Eastern Caribbean."
Trumpet's contingent comprises of Jon-Mikol Rawkin, a light heavyweight, Charlie Lopez-Nixon Jr, a junior welterweight, Hepseba Angel, a female middleweight, Brandy Barnes, a female flyweight and Leah Lejat, a female mini-flyweight.
Keishno Major, the head coach for the Bahamian team, said his boxers are ready. "They have been putting in a lot of work, training hard, so I expect to see them perform very well," said Major, a former heavyweight boxer. "I expect them to do their best. I know that they will do their best."
Although it's a novice team, Major said the home surface should make a big difference. "We expect for the Bahamian public to get to see these young fighters and to get to know them so that they can be recognised for the hard work and dedication that they are putting into the sport of boxing," he said.
Vashan Johnson, a welterweight, Steven Fox, a light heavyweight from Long Island, Eric Williams, a super heavyweight, Ashton Minnis, a middleweight, Keith Major, another middleweight, Elizabeth Hutchinson, also a middleweight and Arlington Munroe, a middleweight, will carry the Bahamian banner in the competition.
While the tournament is going on, the federation is also preparing its next crop of referees. James Beckles, a Level III referee/judge from Trinidad & Tobago, is in town conducting a clinic for the new candidates and those who are taking a refresher course.